Book Review: Everyday Talk

EverydayTalkJohn A. Younts. Everyday Talk. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd’s Press, 2005. 141 pages.

Deuteronomy 6 (mentioned numerous times on this blog) lays out some humbling directions for parents:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (vv. 6-7)

Our last review dealt with the phrase “Thou shalt teach them diligently.” This week’s recommendation develops the next section of the passage: “talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

These few verses are a wakeup call. They ought to shake you to your core. They tell us that the way we often think of “Children’s Ministries” or even the task of parenting falls far short of the biblical understanding. Most of us are content to have well-behaved, “well-adjusted” children. We pay lipservice to our God-given responsibility as parents to teach our children the ways and wonders of God by having family devotions a few times a week.

John Younts splashes the cool water of the Word on our sleepy faces with his short, easy to read book, Everyday Talk. Younts points out that our children learn more from “everyday talk”–the way we speak and act in unguarded situations–than they learn from Sunday School, Children’s Church, or even family worship times. What you say and do in everyday life communicates to your children what you believe about God.

For example, consider the last time your wife burnt dinner. Did your reaction communicate to your family that you are thankful for God’s bountiful provision or were you noticeably ungrateful? Did you show that you value tasty food more than your relationship with the wife God graciously gave you?

How about the day it rained on your carefully planned trip to the zoo? Did your response communicate that God’s sovereign control over the weather is a reason to praise Him, or were you angry with God for allowing such a trial?

Children retain more information about God from these situations than they do from our stern lectures. That’s not to say, of course, that we should do away with explicit and planned teaching on the Word of God. It is to say that we must evaluate how all of what we do communicates what we believe about God, God’s world, and the Gospel.

Younts encourages us to embrace the “everyday talk” model of family discipleship and gives practical ways that this can be done. Be careful, though. Engaging in God-honoring everyday talk means that you actually have to love God more than anything else. No other form of teaching requires the amount of genuine love for God and commitment to His holy commands. You can’t fake it–it just won’t work.

That’s probably the most convicting thing about this book and the passage (Deut. 6) it seeks to expound. It comes back to that first phrase: “These words…shall be in thine heart.” You can’t teach your kids to love God unless you love Him first.

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